Some find them boring, while others are hooked. Video games are a creation of modern times. Almost every day, a new one crops up and another person gets addicted.

Someday, someone will make Life in the 21st Century:  The Videogame.

In the game, you will have to race against an evil robot from one end of the city to the other as quickly as possible to save your family, while skyscrapers, massive apartment towers and man-made obstacles appear in your path, blocking you from reaching your final destination.

But it probably wouldn't sell and that someone will be called a failure. Living in a modern 21st century city is, after all, like being stuck inside of a wild video game, so why pay for a computer-generated version?

Not even Nikita Bashkirov, a 17-year-old gaming fanatic from Russia, would buy the game. In fact, he said that he is so detached and uninterested in modern cities, real or not, that he has no choice but to play his own computer games for up to 12 hours a day.

He is like many other young gamers that say that they play video games because the world on their computer screens is far more predictable and interesting than the one outside.

"I don't even touch my computer when I am in the countryside in Russia," said Bashkirov, "If I am visiting a place that actually has things to do, then I won't play video games. But in most modern cities, there is nothing for me.?

Bashkirov sat in front of a computer in Q Club, a dark and heavily air-conditioned video game club near a shopping mall in Bur Dubai. There are a few pool tables in the back of the club, but the main draw of the place is the room filled with 65 networked computers, all of them loaded with the latest and most popular games.

On weekends, Bahskirov and his friends will play games at the club from opening to closing time. Most of the games they play, like Civilisation IV, are real-time strategy games where players act as rulers and build empires from scratch. In essence, they create a pixilated universe, tailored to their wishes, and then omnisciently control it.

"For me, this world I've created on the screen is more interesting than the outside world," said a 27-year-old sitting next to Bashkirov, who preferred to be identified by "Lord", his online gaming nickname. "It's just easier to deal with than modern cities."

Amer Al Ayoubi, the manager of Q Club?s gaming facilities, said that most of his customers play games constantly because ?there?s just not much else to do?.

One hour of gaming only costs Dh5, a much cheaper alternative to restaurants, shopping malls, and pricey games that can cost almost Dh300, said Al Ayoubi. He estimates that there are eight or nine similar computer gaming clubs in Dubai. It?s a strangely modern reflex, to reject an environment and escape into computer games.

But some experts say that it's completely justified.

"Most people would love to be able to create their own world because it's empowering," said Belkeis Altareb, a social and behavioural science professor at Zayed University.

"They have absolute control when they play these games. The virtual communities are real for these gamers. But whenever someone escapes from the real world into fantasy, we have to look at what is bad or lacking with the present situation that makes them want to escape."

Altareb said that the UAE lacks the strong sporting and outdoor cultures that can be found in other countries, partially because it is very expensive to join a sports team or club here.

Bashkirov, Al Ayoubi, and "Lord" admitted that these games are addictive. The game becomes more fun and easier the more you play, they said.

But Altareb said that the sense of control that comes with the games is the most addictive part.

Khalid Jamal Al Hathboor will confess with a smile that he is hooked. The 23-year-old UAE national used to play computer games for up to 15 hours a day. Three years ago, he turned his obsession into a business when he opened Emperor Internet Games in Deira.

The club has over 100 computers and the clientele ranges from pre-teens with blistered thumbs to middle aged men with hefty waistlines.

"People come here because they get quickly bored with the coffee shops and malls," said Al Hathboor. "But these games do take up a lot of time, almost too much time."

Nearby, six gamers were having an intense three-on-three match, hooting and yelling. Most of them were daily regulars and good friends of Al Hathboor's.

"We call these games 'drugs'," said Al Hathboor, "Because when you start playing, it's impossible to stop."